How H. pylori bacteria survive in the stomach
- An international group of over 50 scientists including three Indians have found out how the bacteria Helicobacter pylori survive in highly acidic environment of the human stomach. H. pylori causes peptic ulcer, and chronic infection can also lead to gastric cancer.
About the Study:
- For the first time, scientists have found that the binding of the bacteria to the stomach mucosal layer is acid-sensitive, allowing it to attach and detach when needed.
- The bacteria bind to the mildly acidic (pH 6) mucous layer of the stomach and when the mucous is shed into the highly acidic (pH 2) stomach, the bacteria quickly unbinds and moves to a fresh mucous layer site.
- H. pylori is associated with low stomach acidity in Peru but higher acidity in Indians.
- The scientists carried out further studies to understand how Indian strains were more acid tolerant.
- They found that in order to escape the acid, the Indian strains attach to the end or bottom of the stomach.
IICB uncovers molecular mechanism of stress-induced gastric ulcer
Researchers at Kolkata’s CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR-IICB) have for the first time identified the molecular mechanism by which acute mental stress affects the stomach causing gastric ulcer or stress-related mucosal disease.
- The stomach is one of the organs most severely affected by stress and this is due to the link between the stomach and the brain. Moreover, the stomach is also known as the body’s second brain with a specialised neural network, repository of neurotransmitters and different kinds of nerve cells innervating the organ, though fewer in number.
- Plenty of corticosterone was released into the blood when the animals were subjected to stress. Once corticosterone gets inside mitochondria it reduces ATP production and respiration capacity. By using a drug that prevents corticosterone from binding to the receptor found inside the cell, the researchers were able to significantly prevent stomach injury in the animals.
- The use of tranquilisers and barbiturates, often prescribed to patients suffering from mental stress and disorders, are associated with inherent problems including withdrawal effects and long-term side effects.
Purchasing Managers Index:
- PMI is calculated on the basis of information received on a monthly basis from companies on various factors that represent demand conditions.
- A standard questionnaire is administered to 500 private companies (PSUs are excluded) and the comprehensive score is arrived at.
- 5 parameters in PMI are – new orders (30% weightage), output (25%), employment (20%), supplier’s delivery (15%) and stock of purchases (10%).
- The respondants can either give a “Positive, Neutral or Negative” response and each resposponse is marked as “1, 0.5 or 0” on the score card respectively.
Index of Industrial Production:
- IIP measures actual production output across the industrial sector.
- Significantly, IIP for December 2017 would be reckoned with the same month in 2016, unlike PMI, which is monthly comparision.
- As it is a comparison over the previous year, it is season neutral.
- Therefore, as the basis of IIP and PMI are different, a comparison between the two is really not appropriate.
- However, as the PMI is released on the 1st of every month and the IIP is known on the 12th, the PMI score is assumed to be a precursor to the IIP.
- But the correlation between PMI and IIP isn’t strong and the relationship between the two variables is quite low and insignificant.
Nuclear Command Authority (NCA)
- It is responsible for command, control and operational decisions regarding India’s nuclear weapons programme.
- Organisational structure of NCA includes Political Council and Executive Council.
- Executive Council is headed by National Security Advisor and Political Council is headed by Prime Minister.
- The Executive Council gives its opinion to the Political Council, which authorises a nuclear attack when deemed necessary.
- This kind of organisational structure is created to prevent the accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons.
- Strategic Forces Command is a part of Nuclear Command Authority, responsible to operationalize the directives of NCA and for the management and administration of the country’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile.
- SFC is headed by Commander-in-chief of the rank of Air Marshal.
- It will have the sole responsibility of initiating the process of delivering nuclear weapons and warheads, after acquiring explicit approval from the NCA.
- SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is the largest airborne observatory in the world.
- It consists of an extensively modified Boeing aircraft carrying a reflecting telescope with an effective diameter of 2.5 meters.
- The observatory is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California.
- The project is implemented by NASA and German Aerospace Center (DLR).
- Many objects in space emit almost all their energy at infrared wavelengths. Often, they are invisible when observed in ordinary visible light.
- Thus SOFIA observes universe in infrared wavelengths to get the expanded views.
- It is preparing for its 2018 campaign for observing Saturn’s giant moon Titan.
- India has announced its first proposal for procurement of 240 KAB-1500 bombs,from Russia.
- It is a precision guided weapon which uses laser for precision guidance.
- It will be used in IAF’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets.
- It is designed to destroy ground targets such as railway lines, ammunition depots, bridges, military facilities and ships.
- The bomb has folding fins that allow it to manoeuvre while being guided to the target.
Ujh multipurpose project
- The Central Water Commission (CWC) has finalised a detailed report on Ujh multi-purpose project .
- The project is to come up in Kathua district, will store around 0.65 million acre feet (MAF) of water from Ujh (a tributary of Ravi).
- It will irrigate 30,000 hectares and produce over 200 MW of power.
- India has planed this project under the mandates of Indus water treat (IWT)
Keoladeo National Park
- It is Located in Bharatpur district, the eastern part of Rajasthan.
- The park is spread over nearly 30 sq.km which comprises many artificial and seasonal lagoons.
- Keoladeo attracts several migratory birds that make the region their breeding and wintering grounds.
- It is an UNESCO World Heritage and also a Ramsar site.
- The Siberian crane is one of the rare species that was spotted here till about the turn of the century.
- It habitat for nearly 365 species of birds, including raptors and waterfowls.
- Animal such as Jackals, Sambar, Nilgai, wild cats, hyenas, wild boar, porcupine and mongoose can be found in the region.
- The Convention on Wetlands called the Ramsar Convention is the intergovernmental treaty.
- It provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
- The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
- Since then, almost 90% of UN member states, from all the world’s geographic regions, have acceded to become “Contracting Parties”.
- The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands, It includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, Peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.
New Savings Bonds
- The Centre recently announced the introduction of 7.75% savings bonds.
- It will have a maturity of seven years carrying interest at 7.75% per annum payable half-yearly.
- There will be no maximum limit for investment in the bonds.
- At the same time, these bonds are not tradeable in the secondary market and are not eligible as collateral for loans from banking institutions/non-banking financial companies.
- Interest on the bonds will be taxable under the Income-tax Act, 1961.
- The bonds will, however, be exempt from wealth tax under the Wealth Tax Act, 1957.
- The bonds are open to investment by individuals, including joint holdings and Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs).
- NRIs are not eligible to invest in these bonds.
Reduction in Ozone Depletion
- The scientists have observed for the first time that levels of ozone-destroying chlorine are declining, resulting in less ozone depletion.
- There has been an international ban on chlorine-containing human made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
- Measurement show that this has resulted in about 20% less ozone depletion during the Antarctic winter than there was in 2005.
- Stratospheric ozone protects life on the planet by absorbing potentially harmful ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts,
- CFCs are long-lived chemical compounds that eventually rise into the stratosphere.
- In the long months of polar winter, chemical reactions take place in Polar Stratospheric Clouds that could not take place anywhere else in the atmosphere.
- These reactions convert the inactive chlorine in CFCs into more active forms, especially chlorine gas (Cl2).
- When the sunlight returns to the South Pole in October, UV light rapidly breaks the bond between the two chlorine atoms, releasing free chlorine.
- Chlorine atoms go on to destroy ozone molecules, resulting in Antarctic ozone hole.
- The measurements are made by Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) aboard the Aura satellite, which has been monitoring continuously since 2004.
The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer:
- a Multilateral Environmental Agreement. It was agreed upon at the Vienna Conference of 1985 and entered into force in 1988.
- In terms of universality, it is one of the most successful treaties of all time, having been ratified by 197 states (all United Nations members as well as the Holy See, Niue and the Cook Islands) as well as the European Union.
- It acts as a framework for the international efforts to protect the ozone layer.
- However, it does not include legally binding reduction goals for the use of CFCs, the main chemical agents causing ozone depletion.
- These are laid out in the accompanying Montreal Protocol.
Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer:
- The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion.
- It was agreed on 16 September 1987, and entered into force on 1 January 1989, followed by a first meeting in Helsinki, May 1989.
- The two ozone treaties have been ratified by 197 parties, which includes 196 states and the European Union, making them the first universally ratified treaties in United Nations history.
- A sin cess is added to products or services that are seen as vices, such as alcohol, tobacco and gambling.
- These types of taxes are levied by governments to discourage individuals from partaking in such activities without making the use of the products illegal.
- General public usually accepts sin taxes because they are indirect taxes that only affect those who use the products.
- Under the GST regime, a cess is levied on luxury, demerit and sin goods to make good the loss suffered by the states on account of roll out of the new indirect tax regime.
- Sin cess in India is levied on top of the highest tax rate of 28% on these goods.
Milk under price stabilisation fund
- To create additional domestic demand for milk the agriculture ministry has sought inclusion of the milk under the Price Stabilisation Fund scheme.
- If milk is included in the Price Stabilisation Fund, it would enable states to distribute milk through the public distribution system.
- The Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) was set upunder the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Famers Welfare (DAC&FW) and later transferred to Department of Consumer Affairs (DOCA).
- It aims to help regulate the price volatility of important agri-horticultural commodities like onion, potatoes and pulses were also added subsequently.
- The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles.
- It always exists near the poles, but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter.
- The term “vortex” refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles.
- Many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream.
- This occurs fairly regularly during wintertime and is often associated with large outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States.
- Polar vortex is not a feature that exists at the Earth’s surface and it is not confined to the U.S.
- Portions of Europe and Asia also experience cold surges connected to the polar vortex.